Scammers Tell Consumers to Pay up or Lose Electricity
Connecticut Better Business Bureau recommends consumers hang up the telephone on anyone who makes a collection call, supposedly on behalf of Connecticut utilities.
In a trend of consumer complaints to BBB across the nation, consumers say scammers told them their utility accounts were past due, and that they created a sense of urgency by threatening to shut off power unless they made an immediate payment by credit card over the telephone or wire transfer.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) issued a warning that callers are claiming to be representatives of United Illuminating, Connecticut Natural Gas and Connecticut Light & Power. In some cases, consumers report the criminals are faking their caller identification to look like the call is originating from the customer’s utility company.
Over the last few months, BBBs across the nation have received complaints about variations of this particular scam. Some scammers are taking advantage of controversial rate increases to confuse consumers, while others claim payment dues were in relation to their city’s first cold front.
Many local police departments are working directly with utility companies to protect consumers’ valuable information.
Better Business Bureau offers these tips to avoid this utility collection scam:
Hang up the phone. Utility representatives should never ask customers to wire money for payment. Beware if you are asked to provide credit card numbers or banking information over the phone. Hang up and call the utility company directly to verify whether you owe money.
Never give out personal information. Never give out your bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card number or Social Security number.
Get informed. Find out what forms of payment your utility company accepts to help when deciding if the request is legitimate.
Keep numbers updated. If you are unsure of your account status, know how to get in contact with your utility provider.
Get help. If you receive a phone call to make a wire transfer to pay a utility bill, report the incident immediately to your utility company.
-Submitted by Howard Schwartz, Executive Communications Director, Connecticut Better Business Bureau
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